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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 18, 1998




America's agricultural industry plays an important role in our Nation's economy. It provides us with an ample supply of high-quality food and fiber and a rewarding form of employment for millions of Americans. However, farming and ranching remain among our Nation's most dangerous occupations, demanding an understanding of complex agricultural equipment, strict attention to detail, and careful performance of farm and ranch work.

Among the most hazardous duties on farms and ranches is the operation of farm tractors and machinery. This work is even more dangerous with extra riders, and all farm equipment operators should avoid carrying people on their machinery who are not necessary to their work. Using tractors and machinery can be especially dangerous during planting and harvesting seasons, when farmers and ranchers must use public highways to gain access to production fields or to bring the harvested crop to market. During these times, all vehicle and equipment operators must exercise special caution on our roadways.

After school, during the summer, and other times of the year when children have more unsupervised time, can be very hazardous to our next generation of farmers and ranchers. Since many agricultural operations are family-oriented, this work can bring younger family members into contact with the mechanical, chemical, and environmental hazards their more knowledgeable parents and older siblings face daily with appropriate caution. Adults should strive to set good examples for younger, inexperienced workers and always carefully monitor children's activities.

Because of the environment they work in, agricultural workers also face serious health concerns. Noisy equipment and inadequate hearing protection frequently cause permanent hearing loss among farm and ranch employees, and skin cancer rates among agricultural workers are exceedingly high, due to long exposure to the sun and chemicals. In every farm environment, workers need to use protective gear to avoid health and safety hazards. This is not only for their personal benefit -- it also sends the right message to the young people who are the future agricultural workers of our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 20 through September 26, 1998, as National Farm Safety and Health Week. I call upon government agencies, businesses, and professional associations that serve our agricultural sector to strengthen their efforts to promote safety and health programs among our Nation's farm and ranch workers. I ask agricultural workers to take advantage of the many diverse education and training programs and technical advancements that can help them avoid injury and illness. I also call upon our Nation to recognize Wednesday, September 23, 1998, as a day to focus on the risks facing young people on farms and ranches. Finally, I call upon the citizens of our Nation to reflect on the bounty we enjoy thanks to the labor and dedication of agricultural workers across our land.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.


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